Best cars to buy in 2017: The ones that didn't make the cut
Just because a car didn't make our list this year doesn't mean we wouldn't recommend it. It just means it doesn't move the needle as much as the finalists do.
A big part of our job around here is to drive today's new cars and report back to you. That puts us in the seats of hundreds of vehicles each year, many of which represent the latest achievements in luxury and performance.
Many are brilliant pieces of comfort and engineering, and some fall shy of the mark.
From this large group of vehicles, we must choose our annual Motor Authority Best Car To Buy. That task starts with figuring out which vehicles don't make the cut.
To make our list, a vehicle must be new or significantly updated within the past year, and that narrows the field considerably, even if the cars are fantastic. For instance, this year we felt that the following weren't new enough to make the cut: Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman, Porsche 911, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Nissan GT-R.
Then we eliminate vehicles unavailable for road tests by our editors prior to November 1, 2016, and unavailable for purchase by April 1, 2017. If two of our editors can't get their butts in those seats, we can't consider them. That left off a few more cars we would really like to consider, including the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Bentley Bentayga, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Lincoln Continental, Maserati Levante, Mercedes-AMG GLC43, and Porsche Panamera.
Then we make the tougher cuts. Luxury and performance marques build most of the finest vehicles on the planet. A car or SUV that might be considered excellent in its segment just might not stack up against other feats of automotive brilliance that came out this year. If a car can't challenge an established benchmark, it can't win.
Let's take a quick look at each of the vehicles that didn't make our finalist list this year. Please be aware that just because a car or SUV is on this list doesn't mean we wouldn't recommend it. It just means it doesn't move the needle as much as the finalists do.
2017 Aston Martin DB11: The DB11 is a big-budget hit from a small-budget company. It's unmistakably beautiful and it makes great sounds to go with more power and improved dynamics.
2017 Audi Q7: The Q7 is nimble for its size, and it offers great space. It's almost, dare we say, a wagon in disguise.
2017 Audi S4: A 354-horsepower version of Audi's likeable compact sedan makes for sporty luxury.
2017 Bentley Bentayga: With a W-12 engine under its lovely hood and more than 400 laps on the Nürburgring during development, the Bentayga is the ultimate marriage of performance and luxury.
2017 Bentley Mulsanne: Bentley adds an Extended Wheelbase model to its luxo-barge lineup this year, while also improving luxury and handling.
2017 Cadillac XT5: The Cadillac XT5 is an incremental improvement over the SRX it replaces, making it a fine choice for luxury buyers looking for room and comfort.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: We already love the sixth-generation Camaro. The ZL1's immense power should only make it better.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider: Fiat's version of the Mazda Miata is a little more refined, but we prefer Mazda's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder to Fiat's 1.4-liter turbocharged four.
2017 Ford Fusion Sport: A lot of power in a mainstream sedan makes it fast, but the engine adds a lot of weight to the front end.
2017 Genesis G90: Hyundai's new luxury brand kicks off with the G90, a full-size luxury sedan that offers on road-comfort and a first-class customer experience.
2017 Infiniti Q60: Infiniti's sport coupe looks sharp and goes fast. Yes, it's sporty, but it's not on par with the best in the class.
2017 Infiniti QX30: The QX30 is Infiniti's version of the Mercedes-Benz GLA subcompact straddles the line between crossover and hatchback, with a touch of sportiness.
2017 Jaguar F-Pace: Jaguar's first attempt at a crossover is a success. It has the moves of a sport sedan with space for four and their gear.
2017 Lincoln Continental: The reborn Continental promises more luxury than we've seen from Lincoln since the 1960s, and with 400 horsepower under the hood it should deliver refined performance.
2017 Lincoln MKZ: Lincoln's midsize sedan gets a luxury upgrade and new twin-turbocharged V-6 engines, including one making 400 horsepower.
2017 Maserati Levante: Maserati enters the crossover market with the Levante. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged V-6 with either 350 or 430 horsepower.
2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet: The C-Class's move upmarket extends to the Cabriolet, and while we like all the flavors, the C43 provides the best balance of tractability and direct feel.
2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43: The performance version of Mercedes' compact crossover promises to be fun, thanks to 362 horsepower, sporty suspension tuning, bigger brakes, and aggressive looks.
2016 Mini Cooper Clubman: The second-generation Clubman is bigger, but it's still fun to drive and it has the space of a small crossover without the extra height.
2017 Nissan GT-R: The GT-R continues to add refinement to a formula that includes ungodly power and relentless grip.
2017 Porsche 718: The 718 Boxster and Cayman downsize to turbocharged 4-cylinders, but power is up even if the sound isn't quite the same.
2017 Porsche Panamera: The second-generation ditches the awkward looks and adds next-level technology. Power is prodigious and we expect that it will driver smaller than its size.
2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn: An ultra-luxurious convertible, the Dawn is unrelentingly smooth and refined, so much so that it makes you appreciate the finer things.
2017 Volvo S90: Last year's XC90 showed that Volvo has better days ahead, and the new S90 shows that was no fluke.
We'll announce our Motor Authority Best Car To Buy winner on November 14, as well as the winners of our Best Car To Buy awards for our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports--and the winners of our Driver's Choice awards, too.